Does this mean deja vu? The last time Pakistan won a World Cup in Australia (1992, 50 overs), they were down after the first few games, including a loss to India. Then there was divine intervention in the form of rain in a match where they were all out for 74, a few results in their favor and some excellent individual performances towards the backend. Towards the end of the MCG, Imran Khan held the cup high above his head.
More interestingly, New Zealand was then their opponent in the semi-finals. A in shape, consistent, well thought out New Zealand, similar to the one that Babar AzamThe boys will face Wednesday.
If the current form is the yardstick by which to judge who is the favourite, it’s New Zealand. But against England they looked good throughout the tournament. Their 89-run hammering on the Aussies set the stage for the formidable hosts’ ouster. Around the quality of Kane Williamson, there are a number of utility players who are always ready to seize any opportunity that comes their way.
Their pace attack has a formidable look with Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson have the ability to make life miserable for any opposition.
Add to this the bad form in which the talisman Babar was. Pakistan skipper’s acclaimed opening partnership with Mohammed Rizwan just hasn’t taken off and the middle class is under tremendous pressure in just about every game.
It is true that Pakistan played well in their last two league games against South Africa and Bangladesh, but their drive to the semi-finals would not have been possible if the Netherlands had not lived up to the miracle of the World Cup against the Proteas on Sunday.
Now that they’re here, it’s suddenly a different ball game. Sydney has a decent Pakistani population and more will be flying down from all over Australia. The lights will be on, there’s no rain in the sky, and most importantly, the SCG pitch has something for the spinners, which should bring experienced leggie Shadab Khan into the equation. It will be a sense of home away from home for Pakistan, something that could be crucial in a match like this.
Pakistan can also bring a small psychological advantage by going to this winner. They recently won a T20 tri-series in New Zealand and hammered the hosts in the final. They know what to expect from this New Zealand side. Williamson rightly pointed out that there could not have been a more dangerous opponent than Pakistan.
However, the respect is mutual. Pakistani team mentor Matthew Hayden said: “I even played against (Tim) Southee. That shows how much experience that team has… Ferguson has a fast pace, also a lot of experience in T20 cricket, so poses good threats And they also have good off-tempo bowling,” Hayden said.
The Aussie great is also aware of New Zealand’s “ability to consistently punch above their weight,” something that makes any big side uncomfortable. But Pakistan isn’t quite the whipping either – they know a thing or two about winning from impossible situations.
New Zealand and Pakistan meet at the SCG with a spot in the final up for grabs Which team will win today?… https://t.co/XYXS5EXXPK
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We’ll find out Wednesday night if Babar’s guys have in them that magical dust of flair that made Imran’s Indomitables kings of the world 30 years ago.